Several demonstrations took place, despite the bans. The shock wave caused by the death of George Floyd in the United States continued to spread on Saturday June 6 in France where demonstrations against police violence were held in several cities despite health restrictions and bans. 

Closely monitored by the authorities, the actions in Paris, Bordeaux, Lyon, Lille and even Rennes, aimed to pay homage to this African-American who died at the hands of the police on May 25, but also to denounce "racism" and "impunity" which would reign within the police in France.

Thousands of people, Place de la Concorde

In the capital, a few thousand people defied the prefectural ban to gather at Place de la Concorde near the American embassy and demand "justice for all" by holding up "Black Lives Matter" signs, the movement's rallying cry to the United States.

"I find it scandalous that all these injustices go unpunished and that the state does nothing," says Dior, a Senegalese-Ivorian student who came to participate in this rally, supervised by police deployed in large numbers.

Chanting "no justice, no peace", other demonstrators began to flock around 5 pm on the Champ-de-Mars, near the Eiffel Tower, to participate in an action also prohibited because of the coronavirus pandemic.

PARIS - Gathering of several hundred people in tribute to George Floyd on Place de la Concorde. #BlackLivesMattter

Very important security system to prevent access to the US Embassy.

- Timbaland (@ Timbala14419858) June 6, 2020

"France is drowning in its racism"

In Bordeaux, at least 2,500 people marched in peace behind banners denouncing "racist police" and "police impunity", before observing, kneeling and for some with their fists raised, a long minute of silence.

"We were unable to participate in the protests in the United States, so we are doing it here," said Caroline Fache, a Franco-American whose family is preparing to return to the United States. "I don't want my daughter to grow up in a society where not all human lives are created equal."

In Lyon, several thousand people gathered in the city center. "France is drowning in its racism. We denounce the police violence and the denial of silence of the institutions", assures Arkya Sedime, member of the collective of Afro-descendants.

A human tide in #Lyon to denounce #ViolencesPolicieres #Macron #BlackLivesMattters #GeorgeFloyd

- The nurse 💎 (@ Infirmier0) June 6, 2020

Mobilization also in Rennes, where from 700 to more than a thousand people demonstrated. The participants formed a body around Awa Gueye, the sister of Babacar Gueye, shot dead during a police intervention in Rennes in 2015, at the age of 27.

"34 years ago, I was a student and I was already demonstrating to denounce the death of Malik Oussekine. Today nothing has changed," says Nathalie Aubré-Connan, who took out her sign "Touch not my friend ".

More modest gatherings were also held in Metz, Nancy or Béziers, while actions had already taken place, the day before, in Strasbourg and Clermont-Ferrand.

In Metz, incidents broke out on Saturday at the end of the demonstration, and the prosecutor was slightly injured. "By shaking the main door of the courthouse, demonstrators managed to force the small door for pedestrians," the Metz public prosecutor, Christian Mercuri, told AFP. "I came to see the damage and I received a pebble on the nose," said the magistrate, from the hospital where he was going to be taken care of, adding that the demonstrators had quickly left the courthouse. 

According to the Moselle prefecture, some 800 people set off at the start of the afternoon for this demonstration, which first took place in calm. 

Christophe Castaner promises to be "uncompromising"

Objects of recurrent polemics in recent years, the accusations of police violence coupled with those of racism had already found a new echo on Tuesday evening in Paris.

Responding to the call from the family of Adama Traoré, who died in 2016 after his arrest in the Val-d'Oise, at least 20,000 people had gathered in front of the Paris Tribunal, Porte de Clichy, sealing an unprecedented mobilization who surprised the authorities.  

Put under pressure, the government refuted the existence of any "structural racism" within the police force but ended up admitting the existence of a "certain uneasiness" which had to be heard.

On the front line, the Interior Ministry, Christophe Castaner, has promised to be "uncompromising" in the face of any tangible sign of racism or unjustified violence among the police.

Friday, he also went to court after the revelation, by the news site Streetpress, of the existence of a private group on Facebook reserved for the police and where racist and hate messages are exchanged. The Paris prosecutor's office has opened an investigation.

[🚨 STREETPRESS INFO] - In a private FB group, reserved for the FDO and which has more than 8000 members, police officers exchange hundreds of racist and sexist messages

👉 We present you these vile facts of #RacismInPolice in article + video ⤵️

- StreetPress (@streetpress) June 4, 2020

The right fears a worsening of the "fracture" in French society

On the right, this electric climate raises fears of a worsening of the "fracture" in French society and the rise of an "anti-cop hatred", according to the president of the group Les Républicains au National Assembly, Damien Abad. 

At the other end of the spectrum, Jean-Luc Mélenchon, leader of the Insoumis, pointed to the executive. "The root of all this is political power which is in the hands of the police unions who do what they want," he said in Marseille.

Deploring the "massive silence" of the authorities, the association SOS Racisme asked the government "to open - finally - the site of the fight against racism within the police."

With AFP

The France 24 week summary invites you to come back to the news that marked the week

I subscribe

Take international news everywhere with you! Download the France 24 app